Opportunities within Mid Wales for the next generation of engineers and product designers are being showcased during Apprenticeship Week – February 6-12.

More than 50 Year 10 and 11 students from Newtown High School, who are studying product design, engineering or a combination of both, are visiting award winning Newtown company Makefast this week and on February 13, 14 and 17 to experience the world of work.

The company, which designs and manufactures equipment for the marine and safety industries around the globe, has a long history of training and developing the next generation of engineers.

The visit was arranged by Mid Wales Manufacturing Group (MWMG) following a meeting with Gareth Breeze, Newtown High School’s head of engineering and Year 11, at a recent careers event held at NPTC Group of Colleges in Newtown.

“Showcasing the opportunities that exist within our region for the next generation of engineers is incredibly important to MWG,” explained Ceri Stephens, MWMG’s group manager. “It is vital that we retain local talent to ensure a future pipeline of skills for our companies.”

Makefast’s human resources co-ordinator Kieran Thorpe said the company is keen to recruit more apprentices in a variety of roles.

“These visits give Makefast the chance to showcase the company and what it has to offer in terms of different career opportunities,” he explained. “Many of our previous apprentices are still part of our workforce of 100. We have three current trainees, but our chief executive Richard Jones is focused on expanding our apprenticeship programme, as developing skilled staff is very important to the business.

“Our company owner Bill Brown was involved in establishing one of the first shared apprenticeships schemes in the area and we think apprentices are our future.”

Mr Breeze said visits to companies allowed students to experience the world of work to see the career opportunities available to them. He is keen to hear from more employers in and around Newtown who would either like to host a visit or to speak to students in school.

“The visits to Makefast are linked to the students’ BTEC courses, for example, learning about injection moulding, milling and turning,” he added.

“I recognise the importance of apprenticeships to develop skills and I encourage the students to explore what careers are out there for them. Channelling students towards degrees is not necessarily the best route for everybody.”

Myrick Training and Pathways Training were on hand during the visits to Makefast to provide information to students on career pathways when they leave school, including degree apprenticeship opportunities.

Myrick delivers engineering apprenticeships for companies in and around Mid Wales. Andy Ellis, Myrick’s lead internal quality assurer, said: “We connect young people with local businesses to become employed and enable them to earn while they learn as an engineering apprentice, with the potential to progress to degree level.

“Many opportunities are available and our focus is on the apprentice. We have a long-standing reputation as a high quality training provider and look forward to helping young people to start their engineering career.”

Pathways Training, part of NPTC Group of Colleges, also deliver personalised, industry-recognised qualifications across Mid and South-West Wales.

Training advisor Theresa Mullinder, who attended the students’ visit to Makefast, said: “Apprenticeships provide an excellent route into a career, particularly for those not wanting to study full-time. At NPTC Group of Colleges, all our assessors have a vast amount of industry experience and knowledge to support learners with their qualifications and employers along their journeys.”

Picture caption:

Newtown High School Year 10 engineering students are shown the toolroom at Makefast by Ian Ibbotson.